Even with 71 ships at IFR, India’s force level is maintained

Visakhapatnam, Feb 5 (IANS) India may have 71 of its ships anchored off Visakhapatnam for the International Fleet Review (IFR), but that does not reduce India’s preparedness, naval sources say, adding that “minimum force level” is maintained all along its maritime area.

Highly placed sources told IANS that the Indian Navy’s submarines, which are absent from the fleet review, are on task, “lurking around” to keep an eye under the waters.

At the IFR in the Bay of Bengal, the largest military exercise organised by India with about 50 global Navies, 24 foreign naval ships and 71 Indian ships, security is tight and a constant vigil is being maintained from the water and the sky.

“Minimum force level is always in place. Guarding India’s maritime interest is the first responsibility of the Indian Navy,” a senior official told IANS.

Highly placed sources told IANS that as the bigger ships are here for the review, long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft P-8I are scanning India’s maritime boundaries to detect any trespassing.

The patrol by the P-8Is is done in a manner that once an area is scanned, it is ensured there will be no boats entering that zone in the next eight hours at least.

To top that, coastal patrol vessels, Indian Coast Guard and maritime police are at their job as well.

About 100 vessels anchored off the Visakhapatnam coast are also “armed to teeth”, said an official.

On deployment also for safety are mine sweepers, missile boats, and patrol vessels.

Fast Interceptor Crafts and Fast Attack Crafts are constantly moving around in the waters.

“The navy is the primary agency, we have the Coast Guard, maritime police, state governments, home minister, IB, RAW, and all other agencies coordinating to ensure a fool-proof security,” an official told IANS.

A fleet review is a ceremonial and stately inspection of naval warships by the supreme commander of the armed forces, the President of India.

This is the second time an IFR is being held in India. The last was held off Mumbai in 2001 when A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was the President. Twenty-nine countries participated in that event.

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